Spa, vacation and Konditorei
The first time we visited Hungary was when I won first prize at the marzipan modeling competition in Kfar Tabor, which included a trip to the Marzipan Museum in Santandre near Budapest. Since then we always wanted to come back here. This time it was a week-long vacation on Lake Balaton two hours' drive from Budapest. We planned Spa, day trips 2 days for professional activity of pastry ans such.
The beginning of this holiday not great. We arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on time and discovered that the airport was almost deserted. We were not informed about that the flight time had changed and that it had already taken off a few hours ago. However, it was one of our most pleasant vacations and the first time we really managed to rest and relax, and to pull that smile a week after our return.
To share our experiences, I chose the pictures carefully and in a real attempt not to overwork with too much of the same.
Goulash, Paprika and Tiberias
We drove to the Anna Grand Hotel on the northeastern shore of Lake Balaton in the town of Balatonfured. Since Hungary doesn't have a sea shore, Lake Balaton is the sea of Hungary, and in Israeli terms it is definitely a sea.
Its a huge, long and narrow strip, that looked like ten times the Sea of Galilee. Everything is so clean and blooming, there is not a cigarette butt on the floor only acorns and chestnuts that have sometimes become a bit of a nuisance but no complains.
The tourist season here lasts only during the summer months, so everything was pretty empty and all the shops closed at 8 PM, but we learned to enjoy it.
We discovered charming villages that looked as if time had stopped there. Many houses still have straw roofs, but there are also palaces like the one we saw in the city of Castelli at the western end of the lake, and Riviera (one of many) we saw in the city of Siofok on the opposite bank.
Traveling on holiday eve may be problematic
We ate a wonderful goulash soup served in a metal bucket, by a waiter who looked like Boris Karloff. We visited Vesprem, the big city in the area that reminded me a bit of Tiberias, especially in its colorful market where we did some interesting shopping. Another reason the area mentions the Sea of Galilee is the extensive use of basalt stones in its construction. The surrounding landscape, reminded me a lot more of Switzerland and the paprika distributes a strong smell.
Hungarian Wellness culture
On the last day we visited the town of Byz, which sits on a large thermal lake, on which they built a huge spa that reminds me a little bit of the bridge on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.
I have not seen anything like this before. Along these bridges are doors with ladders descending into the water, and a kind of central hall from which you can also go down into the water and swim out and the water is really hot.
Aunt Susy and Uncle Siggy used to go there at least once a year
In all of Hungary there are lots of spa places.
Our hotel had a beautiful spa and we used it very happily.
Unfortunately, I did not manage to take pictures. I attach a few photographs from the hotel's amazing site for illustration purposes.
Hungary, Konditorei and me
Since the Hungarian kitchen in general and the pastry shop in particular are famous, I devoted 2 days for business activities. To my help came my colleague Mrs. Esther Drascoczy who organized a wonderful agenda for me: a visit to two large pastry shops - Zila in Budapest and Erno Bergmann in Blatonfured, the beautiful Rachel cake designer who designs in Marzipan and is also a local television star, and the Hoventa trade show.
Mrs. Drascoczy is responsible for the external relations of the Hungarian Bakers Association and also publishes its most impressive magazine. What impressed me most was the diligence and determination of the Hungarians to work, where the whole family was involved in the business. Another interesting thing I saw was that the front pastry shops were designed in a beautiful heavy and conservative style, while in the kitchen you will find the top of technology from everything.
Zila Konditorei, Budapest
Zila is a family business run by Mr. Lazlo Zila. All his children work in the business, and we met his wife sewing uniforms. Zila is a small empire that includes a huge cafe, a restaurant, a bar, an event garden and catering.
The building itself is amazingly beautiful and was once a transit station between countries. I discovered interesting squares in the kitchen, and Mr. Zila introduced me to his own line of silicon molds that he designed and produces. I tasted a selection of beautiful and tasty mousse cakes and especially liked the lime cake.
Zila produce everything, cakes, ice cream, bread and of course the kitchen that serves the restaurant. Mr. Zila, by the way, has been awarded Hungary's national cake for the fourth consecutive year.
It is recommended to visit the amazing website of Zila containing ideas and recipes and what not.
Two years later I was privileged to host Mr. Zila's son and their marketing manager in Israel, and later on we also met in professional exhibitions in Europe.
Konditorei Erno Bergmann, Balatonfured
An equally impressive Konditorei is that of Mr. Erno Bergmann. who owns two cafes with a pastry shop, one of which is makes the cakes, desserts, chocolates and ice cream, and in the other makes breads. Both located in Balatonfured. Here too, the whole family works in the business.
Mr. Bergman showed me with great pride the photographs of his wife's sugar-pulling work, and he also has coffee in a blend that is specially made for him.
After a whole week in a country where very little English is spoken, and the second language is German, I was very relieved that Mr. Bergman speaks English.
He told me that his father had set up the business in 1939 and that the business had almost disappeared during the Communist regime. On the walls of the cafe hang charming photographs from the old days.
I loved Bergmann's strudel and the cherry pie too.
Bergman also has a particularly impressive individual desserts, and his ice cream catalog testifies to the man's sense of humor and his love for children. No wonder he has five of his own.
Rachel - phenomenon, Budapest
Rachel is an unusual phenomenon in many ways. She has a coffee shop not far from the Vace Utca (tourist area) in Budapest. Rachel is an amazing beauty. A thirty-year-old young woman is no less workaholic than Zilla and Bergmann. THe factbthat she recenlky gave birth would not stop someone like her and she takes her baby to work.
She actually a fashion designer. The Cafe she belongs to her mother who taught her to make a traditional Jewish cake called Plodni. Its is a layered cake that includes layers of crust dough, apples, poppy, nuts and plum jam. A very unusual cake and a feast for poppy lovers.
But what she really likes is cake designing. She uses marzipan and a knife only, and has already managed to make a cake in the shape of a woman of life-size.
In addition, this energetic lady has a cooking program on the television channel of the Hungarian Jewish community.
To her website click here
more about cakes in Hungary
Here are some more cake displays I took in a small cafe near the hotel in Balatonfured, and a few more from Gerbaud in Budapest, where I ordered the well-known Gerbeaud. But what I got instead was a mutation called Gerbaud Valronah. It was expensive and disappointing.
As for pies and tarts, I saw very few products made of crust past. There mainly tortes, cream, mousse, puffs and lots of yeast and a Pressburger cakes. Here and there I saw individual Linzer cookies and Ischler - that's it.
Petit fours were mainly macarons and minions, and they use a lot of marzipan and fondant.
On our last day in Budapest we came across this small street fair in where they sold mostly cheeses and sausages. But there I also saw Kortosh on coals for the first time.
Our Budapest day ended in a charming new hotel called Zara, and a wonderful dinner at the Erz restaurant that served delicious desserts.
Dror and his wife Oran who finish their medical studies in Hungary this year joined ud for dinner.
Hoventa Trade Show
We arrived at the height of a sugar-sculpting competition and desserts of of Hoventa, the local food exhibition,